p e t e r    j a y    s h i p p y

 

Boston, Mass

Pastoral: Composed or Suggested
During a Tour in the Summer of 20--




















Boston, Mass

 

All night thereís a noise across my ceiling
like a cat chasing a fly.  The dice
in my mouth are starting to yellow.
Out my kitchen window I see the kid
next door sitting on her fire escape
doing her flashcards, learning Spanish,
preparing to join her boyfriend; sure,
any day now heís mailing her a ticket.
The lights flicker with summer.  On TV
they repeat the ballgame that just finished.
I know who loses, but this time Iíll watch
to see who wins.  Despite the widening
ozone, I appear to be growing paler.
I crack my last beer.  The whole house shakes
as the orange line closes our voids, like
a gondola gliding through Venice.  Sure.
Thereís just enough time for the liquor store.
But Iíd have to pass that girl, my neighbor,
and this might be the time I break and say—
Where he lives?—they speak Portuguese.
Then Iíd miss the perfect execution
of the hit and run and how often
do you see that in this day and age?
Men who still know how to play the game?

next




















Pastoral: Composed or Suggested 
During a Tour in the Summer of 20--

 

AS per usual at the ante-
Envoi of a poem that will portray or evoke
Rural life in an idealized way—I feel
Rotten. Really bad rather. O-ful like
A fastuous polar bear made to wear plaid
Bermuda shorts on the white sands
Of Ipanema.  And no, thatís not me
Donning the pointed hat of hyperbole.
The world has a history of meter shifts
That flick animals across oceans
From verdant continents to rocky islets;
From fast 9/8 to 4/4 swing with
Catastrophic  consequences.  Look at me.
Donít look at me!  Iím disemvoweled:
Th wrld hs hstry o mtr shfts.
                                             Letís walk:
UNDER the pipe-bowled vernal sky,
Over the meadow and the meadow
Beauty, the meadow fern, the meadow
Fescue, the meadow rue as meadow-
Larks and meadow crickets swap (mea-
Culpa!) sweet airs we sip our cup-o-
Mead and compare our destinies
To the fastidious Shepherd.  There he is—
With his lustrous flock in the lea
Near the fast-breeder reactor;
There he is floating above his floe,
Crook in hand, crimson robed, his uncult-
Ivated mane dances in the hot winds
As physicists do the lion dance, or
Is that Captain Fata Morgana?
                                             Letís talk:
My bare ASS against this wool blanket
Is giving me ideas—you?  The stars
Are lookbelows, watching under, guarding
My attempts to enter or exit
Your wild passages; the milky stars are like
A censor or a censer blowing
Jasmine chamomile potpourri through
These lush fields and over the fingers
Of a wandering fiend.  As per de rigueur
All pastorals are really love poems.
No, seriously—they are—we are—
You are incommensurable.  Hear
The bleats?  Listen, the sheep are singing
Us to realpolitik-tock sleep, my hand
In my hand, eyes on the lambent sky.

next

PETER JAY SHIPPY is the author of Thievesí Latin (University of Iowa Press), winner the 2002 Iowa Poetry Prize. BlazeVOX Books just published his abecedarian suite, Alphaville, as a free e-book. His work has been published in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Review, Fence, FIELD, and The Iowa Review. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston. For more poems, go to: www.peterjayshippy.com